Friday, December 19, 2008

Core Learning--- Crayola Art Studio Computer Program

As a kid, my favorite part of going back to school every year was shopping for a brand new box of Crayola crayons. I would always hold my breath as I begged for the really big box with the sharpener in the side. Usually my mom would understand the need to have at least 64 colors with sharpener at my disposal and the box would be mine. I had a "back to school" flashback when I opened the Crayola Art Studio program published by Core Learning for the first time. The colors, the possibilities, the potentially endless hours of fun!

Core Learning, an educational publisher of software, books, multi-curricular projects and on-line learning has a mission of “providing effective learning solutions for the development of fundamental knowledge and skills to support higher order thinking and life skills”. Their products are targeted for elementary and middle school, although the Crayola Art Studio I received for review could satisfy creative urges in people from 3-100.
Aidan's Animals by Aidan age 4
The software requires Windows 98 and up, 96MB RAM, 400MHz, CD-ROM Drive, 125 MB hard drive disk space, VGA display, and 16 bit color with 800 X 600 resoultion. Luckily, my "old bessie" computer could meet the requirements and after a few minutes the program was loaded and ready to go.

The first order of business for me was to take the program's "Quick Start Tour" tutorial, but I have to admit my curiousity won out first over the practical and I began creating with the program before I had actually received my tutorial education. Testing and playing with the different art media is half of the fun of this program as my kids demonstrated too when it was their turn to use the product. My 7 year old artist in residence heard my "oohs and ahhs" when I first began using the program and was instantly drawn to my side asking, "Can I try it?"

After leaving her to discover and create for 15 mins. I asked for her opinion of the Crayola Art Studio. She replied, "I thought it was pretty cool! I got to put lots of colors on the paper. I like how it has decorations (stamps and stickers) for the paintings. I will play this again!"

Sierra's Colorful Creation-- age 7

Crayola Art Studio offers digital artists the opportunity to draw, paint, sketch, design, and color in as many ways as your imagination will take you. The software allows you to choose between paints, color pencil, markers, oil pastels, charcoal and crayon to create your art work. The colors mix on the page just as non-virtual products would if held in your hands. The process is extremely gratifying as no real mistakes can be made. Color choices appear nearly limitless as well. The opportunity to try new techniques is encouraged by the ability to simply click "undo" to rid your paper of them if they present unworthy. After reading through the "Activity Guide" included in the program I discovered use of the computer program could easily be adapted into a full fledged art curriculum for the homeschool.

The "Activity Guide" provides basic lessons in using the paint program for the creation of digital art along with basic drawing lessons. The first few lessons of the guide are especially helpful in familiarizing students with all of the tools and options of the program and their hidden potential. Other activities include:

*Learning to draw with the mouse
* Exploring color and the color wheel
*Using patterns, shapes, and stamp buttons in the program
* Using proportion in drawing
* Repeated patterns
* Light and color
* Drawing Using Foreshortening and Drawing Grids
* Perspective- using vanishing points and horizon lines
* Light and Color in nature
* Human Figure- Advanced Drawing and Coloring Features
* Human Face- More about Drawing with Proportion
* Keyboard shortcuts

I was amazed at the ease of use and sheer entertainment value contained in this little program. The user friendly nature of Crayola Art Studio, its instant kid appeal, the hidden art lessons within, the no fuss, no mess nature of creating with digital art and the ability to save a portfolio of your child's art work in files in your computer are just a few benefits for the homeschool teacher. I am not a computer savvy person, but this program brought virtually no frustration to me as I worked away; believe me when I say that is amazing. Even better is the built in confidence and self-esteem boost of correcting any "mistakes" within your masterpiece with a simple click of the mouse.

Crayola Art Studio sells for $24.95 and is available on the Core Learning website. You will want to take the time to preview other Core Learning products on-line. They include software to aid kids with mathematics, language arts and health education. The Crayola Art Studio in particular is a wonderful value which has lit an artistic spark in my family since our first use. Personally, I haven't had this much fun with a Crayola product since the last time my Mom bought me my brand new box of 64 colors with the built in sharpener.

Micah, age 11

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